We’ve all uttered those dreaded words at some point in our lives: “I need to go on a diet.” Whether you’ve just thought about it or have actually proceeded to go through with one, deep down you know how it’s going to go: You’re going to feel angry, deprived, and even if you’ve somehow managed to follow a diet, there’s a chance you’ll gain the weight right back. If you’ve masterfully been able to stick to a diet, while your waistline may benefit appearance-wise, you may be putting your health at risk. Here are three reasons why dieting can be bad for your health and well being.
1. You could be harming your heart (among other things)
It’s almost difficult to associate a diet with developing heart problems, but it can happen depending upon how extreme your dieting is. There are serious consequences that come with such “nutrient restriction” and rapid weight loss. Cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, explains to Health that frequent crash diets may be severely harming your health. “A crash diet once won’t hurt your heart,” says Dr. Rosenfeld, “[b]ut crash dieting repeatedly increases the risk of heart attacks.” Linda Bacon, Ph.D further explains in the article that repeated and long-term calorie slashing causes damage to the heart muscle, resulting in muscle loss. “Yo-yo dieting can also damage your blood vessels. All that shrinking and growing causes micro tears that create a setup for atherosclerosis and other types of heart disease,” Bacon says.
An additional study cited in the Daily Mail out of California University in San Francisco and Minnesota University kept tract of 121 women who were placed on a restricted calorie diet for three weeks. Once the study was complete, the researchers found a significant increase in the level of the hormone cortisol in each woman. The study, which was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, explained that the increase in cortisol levels occurred to make up for the loss in energy levels the dieting caused. The study further explained the connection between increased cortisol levels and heart disease: Not only did stress levels cause dieters to put the weight back on, but that this constant stress “has been linked with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.”
2. It can make you feel depressed
Keep your mental health (and your social life) intact by not going on a diet. You begin to associate your worth and whole life with your diet and weight loss. Many of us think that once we lose those last couple of pounds that our lives will magically be better for it, and we’ll be happier — but as it turns out, being on a diet can increase your risk for depression, and can make you miserable. According to a study cited in the Daily Mail from the University College London, researchers discovered that after tracking 2,000 overweight and obese women and men over the age of 50 for four years, losing weight didn’t actually make the subjects happy. In fact, “those who successfully slimmed down were almost twice as likely to feel sad, lonely and lethargic than those who stayed the same weight or got fatter.”
Additionally, of the participants who lost weight, not only did they feel disappointed when little in their lives changed other than the fact that they lost weight, but of those men and women who lost weight, 78% were more likely to have symptoms of depression. Conclusion: The overall experience of dieting can make you feel down in the dumps.
3. You’ll might put the weight back on (and then some)
While it’s not exactly news that most people who go on a diet will regain the weight at some point, research has finally confirmed the fact that so many of us know all too well: The pounds might come off temporarily but will eventually creep back on. UCLA associate professor of psychology and author of a meta study of 31 long-term studies on dieters, found that while dieters can lose 5 to 10% of their weight on various diets, the weight will come back. “We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.”
And there you have it. Best to hop on board with a healthy balanced lifestyle than continuously challenge yourself to go on a diet.